USM stuns La Tech, 35-19

Southern Mississippi takes the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game...
Southern Mississippi takes the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Alabama, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)(Vasha Hunt | AP)
Published: Nov. 20, 2021 at 5:49 PM CST
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RUSTON, La. (WDAM) - The “Super Back” worked out just super for the University of Southern Mississippi football team Friday night.

The Golden Eagles threw for three touchdowns without a true quarterback listed on the depth chart and the defense forced five turnovers as USM snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 35-19 Conference USA victory over Louisiana Tech University at Joe Aillet Stadium.

It was not only USM’s first C-USA win of the season, but first win over a Football Bowl Subdivision team.

The Golden Eagles (2-9, 1-6 C-USA) turned to a variant of a direct-snap, Wildcat-like offense, dubbed the “Super Back” offense, and it allowed USM to score the most points in a game since its 37-0 win over Grambling State on September 11.

Running back Frank Gore, who left last week’s game at University of Texas-San Antonio with an injury, was one of four “Super Backs” to play Friday.

Gore scored USM’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run and threw a pair of touchdown passes of 9 yards and 39 yards to Jason Brownlee as the Golden Eagles grabbed a 21-9 halftime lead.

The duo’s first touchdown pass was set up by one of the game’s defining plays.

Tech had gotten behind its pads and run the ball downfield, reaching USM’s 9-yard line. But on the next snap, Hayes Maples forced a fumble that fellow linebacker Santrell Latham scooped up and returned 72 yards inside Tech’s 15-yard line.

After a scoreless third quarter, Tech pulled within 21-19 with nearly 12 minutes left in the game.

But another of the “Super Backs,” Antavious Willis, found a wide-open tight end Grayson Gunter with a 20-yard touchdown pass to cap an 80-yard, nine-play drive with 6:37 to play.

Fittingly, the defense clinched the game when Averie Habas batted an attempted screen pass in the air, hauled in the ball and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown with 92 seconds left in the game.

USM’s defense limited Tech (3-8, 2-5) to 250 total yards and did not allow an offensive touchdown.

The Bulldogs scored on four, Jacob Barnes’ field goals and a strip-six, 43-yard fumble return by Tech linebacker Trey Baldwin.

USM totaled 294 yards, including 184 yards rushing.

Dajon Richard finished with 120 yards on 22 carries, while Demarcus Jones added 87 yards on 14 carries.

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